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Christopher O'Riley, True Love Waits: Christopher O'Riley Plays Radiohead (Sony Classical)
Finally, something for music geeks to play while hosting fancy dinner parties. Classical pianist Christopher O'Riley's new album True Love Waits: Christopher O'Riley Plays Radiohead is sure to generate a lot of "Huh?"'s out of Radiohead fans everywhere; after all, it's never a good idea for an artist to perform a hoity-toity rendition of a rock tune. Look what Tori Amos did to Slayer's "Raining Blood", for crying out loud. However, like The Bad Plus did with their jazz version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", O'Riley takes 15 of his favorite Radiohead tracks (he's a huge fan, apparently), and reworks them in a different setting, offering fascinating new glimpses of some supremely sublime music. He makes some very wise song choices, focusing mainly on some of the band's album tracks (although singles like "Knives Out" and "Fake Plastic Trees" do pop up), resulting in a few revelatory moments, such as on the dark "Everything in its Right Place" and "Exit Music (For a Film)", the shimmering "Black Star", and his utterly gorgeous performance of "True Love Waits", arguably Radiohead's finest song from the past three years. The CD goes a bit too far at times, as O'Riley's nearly hour-long tribute gets a bit bombastic and swaggering, but its high points make this all worthwhile, especially his stirring cover of "Karma Police", where he proves how someone who is performing within the constraints of a very formal genre can still try something new and make it work surprisingly well.